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Verbs

Verbs indicate an action, occurrence or state. Events can be placed:

in present time i.e. the present tense e.g. is (is).

in past time i.e. the past tense e.g. wis; or

as having taken place in the past but are relevant to the present time, the perfect. e.g. haes (has) plus past participle.

The suffix (e)n may be used to form verbs from adjectives and nouns.

Dinna frichten the bairns wi thae auld yairns.
Don't frighten the children with those old yarns.
The gowans whiten the gress-green brae.
The daisies whiten the green hillside.

The suffix le alternating with er may be added for frequentative or diminutive emphasis.

Aiblins experience will knusle some wit intae ye.
Perhaps experience will squeeze some wisdom into you.
Whan winter cauld is bitin sair couter up at the ingle-cheek.
When winter's cold is really biting nestle round the fireside.

The prefix be can be used before verbs to strengthen them and to make nouns into verbs.

A begrudge no gaun tae see ma grannie.
I regret not going to visit my grandmother.
The Pape's gaun tae besaunt thon mairtyr.
The Pope is going to canonise that martyr.
She beteacht aw her siller til the man frae the insurance.
She entrusted all her money to the insurance agent.
Ye'll hae tae besmairten yersel afore ye gae oot.
You'll have to tidy yourself up before you go out.
The reivers bewaves thair veectims.
The robbers lay in wait for their victims.
Dinna ettle tae begowk me.
Don't attempt to fool me.

The infinitive marker, for tae or for til means 'in order to'.

He cam for tae eat his denner.
He came to eat his dinner.
A gaed for tae get it.
I went to get it.
The war room for tae get yer haund in.
There was space to get your hand in.
Ye'll come for tae mak up a gemm.
You'll come to make up a game.
He ettelt for tae gang.
He meant to go.
Thay aw gaed for tae see't.
They all went to see it.

The present indicative (the mood of the present tense expressing fact).

The present indicative is usually formed by adding s to the infinitive.

Infinitive
Present indicative
eat
eat
eats
eats
gie
give
gies
gives
greet
cry
greets
crys
hae
have
haes
has
juidge
judge
juidges
judges
ken
know
kens
knows
leuk
look
leuks
looks
lowp
leap
lowps
leaps
pech
pant
pechs
pants
pey
pay
peys
pays
skail
spill
skails
spills
skelloch
scream
skellochs
screams
shak
shake
shaks
shakes
smue
smile
smues
smiles
smuirich
kiss
smuirichs
kisses
wash
wash
washes
washes
wirk
work
wirks
works
wiss
wish
wisses
wishes

She daes that aw the time.
She does that all the time.
He kens whaur tae gang.
He knows where to go.
She washes the fluir ilka Monanday.
She washes the floor every Monday.
It peys tae tak tent o yer caur.
It pays to look after your car.

The verb inflexion s. (Northern Subject Rule)

Tae Ken Oor Kin, DundeeDundee

When a verb immediately follows a personal pronoun in the present tense, the verb remains the same.

A come first.
I come first.
We gang thare.
We go there.
A ken that fine.
I know that well.
We ken that fine.
We know that well.
Thay come for tae dae't.
They come to do it.
Thay say he's ower auld.
They say he is too old.
Thay are comin an aw.
They are coming too.
The laddies? Thay'v went.
The boys? They have gone.

The verb ending s, occurs:

In all persons of the plural except immediately following a personal pronoun (see above).

Thaim that says he's ower auld tae draw straes afore thair een.
Those who say he is too old to hoodwink them.
It's us that gangs til the schuil.
It's us who go to school.
 
You anes says that ilka day.
You lot say that every day.
Us auld fowk kens that fine.
We old people know that well.
Thaim that daes thair hamewark gets sweeties efter.
Those who do their homework receive sweets afterwards.
It's thaim an us that haes aw the graith.
It's they and we who have all the equipment

Where the subject of the verb includes two pronouns.

Me an you kens that fine.
You and I know that well.
Thaim an us gangs thegither.
Us and them go together.
Him an her gies nae grief.
He and she don't cause trouble.
Me an her daes bonnie pentins.
She and I do nice paintings.
Thaim an him haes braw motors.
He and they have nice cars.

Where the subject is a plural noun.

Weemen kens that fine.
Women know that very well.
Ma brakes haes went.
My brakes have gone.
Fowk that comes unbiddensits unserred.
People who come uninvited sit unserved.
Auld men dees, an bairns suin forgets.
Old men die, and children soon forget.
Whan the kye comes hame.
When the cows come home.
As the days lenthens the cauld strenthens.
As the days get longer the cold gets stronger.
Fowk that haes sair feet canna daunder.
People who have sore feet can't go for walks.
Bairns that dis guid gangs tae heiven.
Children who do good go to heaven.

Where the plural pronoun is separated from the verb by some other word or words.

Us twa whiles gangs thare.
We two sometimes go there.
Us three whiles haes pizza.
We three sometimes have pizza.
You anes says whit you means.
You lot say what you mean.
You anes aye dis that on a Seturday.
You lot always do that on a Saturday.
Some fowk frae Jethart thinks he's richt, but ithers frae here mainteens the contrair.
Some people from Jedburgh thinks he's right, but others from here maintain the opposite.

In the narrative resent the verb sometimes takes the ending s, even in the first person singular and after a single personal pronoun.

A niver sees him nou.
I never see him now.
An in we comes.
And in we came.
Cut that oot the nou A says.
Stop that now I said.
A says no tae come the morn.
I said not to come tomorrow.

The past tense and the past participle of verbs.

Some verbs may have both weak and strong forms (see below).

Weak verbs that end with b, d, g, k, p and t usually form the past tense and the past participle by adding it including verbs with a final silent e, which is dropped. Some weak verbs also have strong forms (see below).

Infinitive
Simple past
Past participle
 
big
build
biggit, bug
biggit, buggen
drap
dropped
drappit
drappit
flit
move home
flittit
flittit
hurt
hurt
hurtit
hurtit
keek
peep
keekit
keekit
keep
keep
keepit
keepit
like
like
likit
likit
mend
mend, repair
mendit, ment
mendit, ment
mynd
mind, remember
myndit, mynt
myndit, mynt
need
need
needit*
needit*
sab
sob
sabbit
sabbit
treat
treat
treat(it)
treat
wad
wed
wad(it)
wad(it)
want
want
wantit
wantit

* In Mid Northern Scots note is used for the past tense and note(n) for the past participle of need.

Note that want and need are regularly followed by a past participle.

The bairn wants taen hame at fower oors.
The child would like to be be taken home at four o' clock.
Ma caur needs washt.
My car needs to be washed.

In Scots, besides 'to wish, to desire', want also has the meaning 'to be in need', 'to be lacking', 'to do without' or 'to go without'.

A didna want the will, but A wantit the means.
I didn't lack the will, but I lacked the means.
Sae lang's fowk's born barefit, the souter winna want a job.
As long as people are born barefoot, the cobbler won't lack a job.
That chield wants a penny o the shillin.
That fellow is a penny short of a shilling (i.e. "backward").

Weak verbs that end with ch (, x/), f, s (/s/), sh (/ʃ/), (t)ch (/ʧ/) and th (/θ/) usually form the past tense and the past participle by adding t. If a final silent e follows the above sounds 't may be added.

claich
besmear
claicht
claicht
fash
trouble, bother
fasht
fasht
loss
lose
lost
lost
miss
miss
misst
misst
race
race
race't
race't
wiss
wish
wisst
wisst

Weak verbs that end with l, m, n, ng or r usually form past tense and the past participle by adding t or (e)d, the latter especially in the south. If a final silent e follows the above sounds 't may be added.

In some weak verbs a double l is rendered single and final le after a consonant is changed to elt to form the past tense and past participle.

airm
arm
airmt, airmed
airmt, airmed
birsle
broil
birselt, birsled
birselt, birsled
byle
boil
bylt, byled
bylt, byled
daur*
dare
daured, durst
daured, durst
dirl
vibrate
dirlt, dirled
dirlt, dirled
droun
droun
drount
drount, droundit
ettle
endeavour
ettelt, ettled
ettelt, ettled
fear
fear/scare
feart, feared
feart, feared
fill
fill
fillt,filled
filt, filled
gaither
gather
gaithert, gathered
gaithert, gathered
gar
compel
gart, garred
gart, garred
hear
hear
haurd,
heard [hi:rd]
haurd, heard
ken
know
kent, kenned
kent, kenned
lear
learn, instruct
leart, leared
leart, leared
meant
mean
meant [mint],
meaned [mind]
meant, meaned
sell
sell
selt, sauld
selt, sauld
ser
serve
sert, serred
sert, serred
skail
spill
skailt, skailed
skailt, skailed
soum
swim
soumt, soumed
soumt, soumed
speir
inquire, ask
speirt, speired
speirt, speired
stang
sting
stangt, stangit
stangt, stangit
teem
empty
teemt, teemed
teemt, teemed
tell
tell
telt, tauld
telt, tauld
taigle
hinder
taigelt, taigled
taigelt, taigled
tyne
losed
tint, tyned
tint, tyned
traivel
travel, walk
traivelt
traivelt
turn
turn
turnt, turned
turnt, turned
wale
choose
wale't, waled
wale't, waled
warstle
wrestle
warstelt, warstled
warstelt, warstled
wile
beguile
wile't, wiled
wile't, wiled

* The past perfect of daur when followed by a noun or complex verb phrase is daurd. Durst is only used in the sense of ventured.

Weak verbs that end with (d)ge (/ʤ/), th(e) (/ð/), v(e) (/v/) and se or z(e) (/z/) usually form the past tense and the past participle by adding (e)d.

bairge
barge
bairged
bairged
cairve
carve
cairved
cairved
deave
deafen
deaved
deaved
jaloused
suspect
jaloused
jaloused
lowse
loosen
lowsed
lowsed
ludge
lodge
ludged
ludged
pruive
prove
pruived
pruived, pruiven
raise
raise
raised
raised
skaithe
harm
skaithed
skaithed
uise*
use
uised
uised
wadge
wedge
wadged
wadged
weeze
ooze
weezed
weezed

* Note the difference between the verb uise (use) and the noun uiss (use).
Uised wi means 'used to' in the sense of being in the habit of or familiar with. Uised tae (Central ['jɪste:], Northern ['isti:]) means 'used to' in the habitual sense.

Some weak verbs have assimilated the t or d past tense and the past participle and/or changed the vowel or undergone metathesis.

bend
bend
bent, bendit
bent, bendit
bluid
bleed
bled
bled
burn
burn
brunt
brunt
cleid
clothe
cled, cleidit
cled, cleidit
leave
leave
left
left
mak
make
made, makkit
made
redd
arrange
redd
redd
send
send
sent
sent
set
set
set, sot
setten, sotten
shae
shoe
shod
shoddit
shape
shape
shape, shapit
shapit, shapen
wirth
to befall
wort
word

Some weak verbs distinguish the vowel in the past tenses and have final cht (/xt/).

awe
owe
aucht
aucht
buy
buy
bocht
bocht
bring
bring
brocht, brang
brocht(en), brung
catch
catch
caucht, catcht, cotch
caucht, catcht,
cocht(en)
cleek
hook, link
claucht, cleekit
claucht, cleekit
dow
to be able to
docht
docht
seek
seek
socht
socht(en)
streek
stretch
straucht, streekit
straucht
teach
teach
taucht, teacht
taucht, teacht
think
think
thocht
thocht
wirk*
work
wrocht
wrocht

* Note the difference between the verb wirk (work) and the noun wark (work), but wirker (worker).

Some Verbs of Latin origin traditionally have no inflection in the past participle.

acquent
acquaint
acquentit
acquent
calculate
calculate
calculatit
calculate
execute
execute
executit
execute
impignorate
pawn
impignoratit
impignorate
insert
insert
insertit
insert
seetuate
seetuate
seetuatit
seetuate

Weak verbs that end with a vowel usually form the past tense and the past participle by adding (e)d, except after final <ee> which add 'd.

allou
allow
alloued
alloued
bou
bow, bend
boued
boued
caw
call, drive
cawed
cawed
dee
die
dee'd
dee'd
gae*
go
gaed
gane, went
hae
have
haed
haed, haen
lee
lie (fib)
lee'd
lee'd
lue
love
lued
lued
pey
pay
peyed
peyed
pou
pull
poued
poued
rowe
roll
rowed
rowed
saw
saw (wood)
sawed
sawn
say
say
said
said, sain

* The alternative gang [gaŋ], [gjaŋ] or [gɪŋ] in Mid Northern Scots or gan [gan, gɑn] in Central and Southern Scots may be used in place of gae.

Some dialects with an unstressed pronunciation of the final ae, ie or y of weak verbs also form the past tense and the past participle by adding it.

buiry
burry
buirit, buirried
buirit, buirried
cairy
carry
cairit, cairied
cairit, cairied
cuilyie
wheedle
cuilyit, cuilyied
cuilyit, cuilyied
follae
follow
follit, follaed
follit, follaed
hurry
hurry
hurrit, hurried
hurrit, hurried
jundie
jostle
jundit, jundied
jundit, jundied
mairy
marry
mairit, mairied
mairit, mairied
marrae
match
marrit, marraed
marrit, marraed
tarrae
delay
tarrit, tarraed
tarrit, tarraed
wirry
worry
wirrit, wirried
wirrit, wirried

Strong verbs usually form their past tenses by a change of vowel and in past participle usually add (e)n.

bide
stay, endure
bade, bid
bid(den), bade
bite
bite
bate
bitten
drive
drive
drave*, driv
driv(en)
flyte
scold
flate, flytit
flitten, flytit
hide
hide
hade, hod
hidden, hodden
ride
ride
rade
rid(den)
rise
rise
rase, ris
ris(en)
slide
slide
slade
slidden
slite
slit
slate
slitten
stride
stride
strade
stridden
write
write
wrat(e)
written
writhe
writhe
wrathe
writhen

* Also dreeve in North Eastern varieties and past participle dri'en.

beat
beat
beat
beat(en)
eat
eat
ate, eat(it)
eaten
read
read
rade
read(en)

rive
tear
ruive, rived
riven, ri'en, rived
strive
strive
struive
striven
thrive
thrive
thruive
thriven, thri'en
weave
weave
wuive, weaved
wuiven, weaved

chuise*
choose
chose, chuise
chosen, chuisen,
chuised
fecht
fight
focht, feucht, fechtit
fochten, feuchten,
fechtit
freeze
freeze
froze
frozen
shuit
shoot
shot, shuitit
shot(ten), shuitit

* Also choise or chyse in Southern varieties, inflecting choised and chysed.

bind
bind
band
bund
ding
strike
dang
dung, dinged
find
find
fand
fund
fling
fling
flang
flung
hing
hang
hang, hingit
hung, hingit
rin
run
ran, run
run, ran
sclim
climb
sclam, sclimm(i)t
sclum, sclimm(i)t
sing
sing
sang, sing(i)t
sung, sing(i)t
win
win, reach
wan
wun
wind
wind, spool
wand, windit, wint
wund, windit
begin
begin
begoud
began

beir
bear, carry
buir
born
shear
shear, clip
shuir
shorn
sweir
swear
swuir
sworn
teir
tear
tuir
torn
weir
wear
wuir
worn
steal
steal
staw, stealt
stowen, stealt
burst/brust
burst
barst, burstit/ brast
bursten, burstit/brusten
creep
creep
crap, creepit
cruppen, creepit
come
come
cam, comed
come(n), comed
drink
drink
drank
drunk(en), drucken
greet
weep
grat
grutten
grip
grip
grap, grippit
gruppen, grippit
leap
leap
lap(e), leapit
luppen, leapit
sweit
sweat
swat(tit), sweitit
swutten, swatten,
sweitit
weet
wet
wat, weetit
wutten, wat(tit),
weetit

be
be
wis, war
been
gie
give
gae, gied
gien, gied
see*
see
saw, see'd
seen

* The verb see is used colloquially to indicate a desire to be handed something.

See's ower thon jurnal.
Pass me that magazine over.
Coud ye see's the teapat?
Could you pass me the teapot?

forget
forget
forgat
forgotten
get
get
gat
gotten
speak
speak
spak
spoken

bid
bid
bad(e)
bid(den), budden
hit
hit
hat
hitten, hutten
pit
put
pat, pit
pit(ten), pat, putten
quit
rid, quit
quat
quitten, quat, quutten
sit
sit
sat
sitten, sat(ten), sutten
smit
smit
smat(e), smittit
smat, smitten
spit
spit
spat, sput, spittit
spittit, spitten, sputten,
stick
stick
stack, stickit
stickit, sticken, stucken
strick
strike
strack
stricken, strucken
cast
cast
cuist
cuisten, casten
lat
let
luit
luiten, latten
thrash
thrash
thruish
thruishen
wash
wash
wuish, washt
wuishen, washt
fesh
fetch
fuish, fesht
fuishen , fesht, feshen
haud
hold
hui(l)d, held*
huiden, hauden, haudit
staund
stand
stuid
stuiden
Haud Yer Horses, FalkirkThe Helix, Falkirk

* The prevalent forms are held and hauden, huid occurs in North Northern and Insular dialects, huild in Mid Northern dialects and some Insular dialects.

brak
brak
breuk, brak
breuken, brak(en)
mistak
mistake
misteuk
mistaen
shak
shake
sheuk, shakkit
sheuken, shakken,
shakkit
tak
take
teuk
teuken, takken,
taen

bake
bake
beuk, bakit*
beuk, baken*
lauch
laugh
leuch, laucht*,
leuchen, lauchen,
laucht*

* The prevalent forms are bakit, baken and laucht.

blaw
blow
blew
blawn
craw
crow
crew, crawt
crawn
draw
draw
drew
drawn
faw
fall
fell
fawn
maw
mow
mew, mawed
mawn
sawe
sow
sew, sawed
sawn, sawed
shaw
show
shew, shawed
shawn
shew
sew
shewed
shewen, shewed
snaw
snow
snew, snawed
snawn, snawed
straw
straw
strawed
strawn
thraw
throw
threw, thrawed
thrawn, threwen

flee
fly
flew, flee'd
flowen, flewen
growe
grow
grew, growed
growen, growed

In simple sentences Scots prefers the word order Subject - verb - adverb - (adjective) object.

He sneckit aff the licht.
He switched the light off.
She hingit oot the washin.
She hung the washing out.
The wirkers heezed up the wechty stanes.
The workers hoisted the heavy stones up.

Standard English prefers Subject - verb - (adjective) object - adverb.

In middle Scots the present participle (referring to an action that is roughly contemporaneous ) was formed by adding and to the verb. By the twentieth century the pronunciation had become indistinguishable from that of the verbal noun in most dialects. During the Scots revival some Scots writers started to revive the older form spelling the present participle an. In line with modern pronunciation the form in is used here. In words like bide, side, ride and hate the final e is dropped when forming the present participle. Where the verb ends with ie the ie changes to y.

He cam beirin praisents.
He came bearing presents.
He wis bidin ootby.
He was staying outside.
The man wantin a leg isna at the fishin.
The man missing a leg isn't a fisherman.
She wis beatin the dug.
She was beating the dog.
He's aye cairyin on lik a daft fuil body.
He's always behaving like a stupid fool person.
The dug wis couryin doun whan the thunner clappit.
The dog was cowering when the thunder clapped.

The regular present participle of gae is gaein and of gang, gangin, however, the irregular present participle gaun is the most prevalent form.

A'm gaun hame; thare's nocht tae dae.
I'm going home; there is nothing to do.

Scots often uses the continuous tense with stative verbs where Standard English would have a simple tense.

A'm thinkin means much the same as 'I imagine' in Standard English.
A'm doutin expresses the sense of 'I suspect' or 'to anticipate something undesired'.

A'm thinkin we wad been telt tae gang
I imagine we would have been told to leave.
He wis hatin haein tae wirk on the Saubath.
He hated having to work on Sunday.
A'm doutin that thare will be wittins anent the mishanter.
I suspect that there will be news about the accident.
He wisna likin it an the lassie he wis wi wisna likin it.
He didn't like it and the girl he was with didn't like it.
We warna wantin tae big a new hoose.
We didn't want to build a new house.
Ye're no intendin tae appen thon bottle o wine the nicht, are ye?
You don't intend to open that bottle of wine tonight, do you?
He's no liftin a wird, ye say.
He doesn't understand a word, you say.

This also occurs with other tenses and verbs.

A'll pit ma buits on the morn an be rinnin ower the muir.
I'll put my boots on tomorrow and run over the moor.
Ye wad get a sair fricht, gin he wis comin alive again.
You would get a terrible fright if he came back to life.

Scots prefers the use of present participle to the infinitive.

Thay aye conteenas wirkin till the whistle blaws.
They always continue to work until the whistle blows.
He stairtit speakin til his feres.
He started to speak to his comrades.
It wis glaikit lea'in the dug in the hoose its lane.
It was thoughtless to leave the dog in the house on its own.
Ettle at eatin less gin ye're ower wechty.
Try to eat less if you're overweight.

In a few words the older past participle survives in various forms such as appearant, awnd, though now usually awin, farrant and willint now often willin.

He wis aye willint tae dae't.
He was always willing to do it.
The lamms willintly gaed til the slauchter.
The lambs willingly went to the slaughter.

Negative verbs.

Single syllable verbs used to be negated by affixing na.

A seena why.
I don't see why.
He kensna whaur she is.
He doesn't know where she is.
She camna hame.
She didn't come home.
He'll carena a tait.
He won't care a bit.

These are now usually replaced by modal verb forms or no.

A dinna see why.
I don't care a bit.
He disna ken whaur she is.
He doesn't know where she is.
She didna come hame.
She didn't come home.
He'll no care a tait.
He won't care a bit.

The usual negative with past tense verbs is niver.

A naurhaund coft the haliday, but A coudna gang till the hint-end o Augist sae A niver coft it.
I nearly bought the holiday, but I couldn't go until the end of August so I didn't buy it.
A niver gotten stairtit till nine.
I didn't get started until nine.
A will niver iver dae drogs.
I will at no time take drugs.

Negative or unpleasant attributes may be indicated by the prefix mis.

That wickit man mislippens his bairns.
That wicked man neglects his children.
The mediciner miskent the seemptoms.
The physician mistook the symptoms.
A misdout wir lads'll win the gemm.
I doubt our boys will win the game.
The penter wis sair mistrystit wi the onding.
The painter was extremely dismayed by the downpour.

Interrogative sentences (questions) may begin with a verb instead of an auxiliary.

Think ye sae?
Do you think so?
Cam ye by Athol?
Did you come past Athol?

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